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Pedro Alvarez Rumors
The Pirates have exercised their 2013 club option for Pedro Alvarez and declined for Rod Barajas, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). The team also released southpaw Hisanori Takahashi.
Alvarez will earn $700K next season and would have remained under team control as a pre-arbitration eligible player had Pittsburgh declined the option. Barajas, 37, hit .206/.283/.343 with 11 homers this year and will receive no buyout rather than a $3.5MM salary. Takahashi, 37, was due to hit free agency so his release is just procedural. He pitched to a 5.54 ERA in 50 1/3 innings split between the Angels and Pirates in 2012.
A pivotal battle between two division rivals in the midst of a playoff race took 19 innings to complete as the Pirates beat the Cardinals by the score of 6-3. Pedro Alvarez gave Pittsburgh the lead in the top of 19th when he hit a solo shot against Barret Browning. The Pirates took the three-game series with the win and would be headed to the playoffs if the season ended today as the second Wild Card.
Here's the latest news and headlines from around the National League…
- With the Braves set to play one more series against the Nationals after this week's showdown, Atlanta realizes the importance of making up ground in D.C. starting on Monday, writes Andrew Simon of MLB.com. The Braves have a comfortable hold on the top Wild Card spot but have played well enough to make a run at the division only to be matched win-for-win by Washington. "We have the opportunity to take advantage because it seems like every time we win, they win and they don't lose very often," said Freddie Freeman. "So this is our time to try to take control of things and get a little closer."
- Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson, a free agent after the season, would like to remain in D.C. on a deal longer than the one-year contract he signed in February, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. "Anything more than one year," Jackson said. "It would be nice to settle down for more than one year, for sure. I would like to [stay]. I could see myself being a part of [the Nationals], but at the end of the day, it's up to ownership."
- The battle against performance-enhancing drugs remains an uphill struggle for Major League Baseball, opines Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Rosenthal suggests Melky Cabrera's actions reflect a desperate person willing to resort to desperate actions as he may have viewed PEDs as the lone way to salvage his career. While there may be less users in baseball as compared to a decade ago, players are still abusing the system and reaping the benefits that Cabrera enjoyed for almost a full season, if not longer.
As if the Phillies didn't already have enough stars on the disabled list, Hunter Pence missed Monday's game due to a shoulder injury suffered diving for a ball Sunday against the Padres. The extent of the injury is yet unknown and Pence is considered day-to-day for the time being.
Some news from Monday in the Major Leagues…
- Dontrelle Willis talks to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko about the situation that resulted in Willis being placed on the Orioles' restricted list. Willis is "almost dumbfounded" by how things unfolded, as he thought he and the O's had agreed to part ways since he was injured and not adjusting well to relief pitching. "I don't understand what's really going on. I don't know if there's been a miscommunication there," Willis said. "Not with me. I talked to my agent and we talked about it, I talked to the proper representation, I talked to Dan [Duquette] personally….It was face-to-face. I don't know what's going on. And now if I want to sign with another team, I can't."
- Kubatko hears that Willis has drawn interest from a team in South Korea and a team in Japan, but Matt Sosnick, Willis' agent, denies that his client has received any offers.
- The Marlins' signing of Ivan Rodriguez in 2003 was "money well spent," team president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest tells Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Beinfest doesn't regret any of the moves the club made that season (even trading then-prospect Adrian Gonzalez for Ugueth Urbina) because it led to a championship. "You always hate to trade away a talent like Adrian Gonzalez. But you make it every day if you're going to win the World Series," Beinfest said.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum hopes Rodrigo Lopez will clear waivers and remain with the organization, reports ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla. The right-hander was designated for assignment earlier today as the Cubs added Michael Bowden to the roster.
- Pedro Alvarez's struggles inspired a discussion of the greatest draft busts in history in this mailbag piece from Baseball America's Jim Callis. Alvarez, taken by the Pirates with the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, could be "the biggest waste of hitting talent in draft history" unless he turns himself around, Callis writes.
- Twins President Dave St. Peter told Jim Memolo and Jeff Nelson on MLB Network Radio that his team needs to pitch better to recover from its 5-11 start. St. Peter suggested the Twins could move Francisco Liriano to the bullpen temporarily. “He’s an asset for this franchise and we need to get him back into a situation where he can go deep into ballgames,” St Peter said. The 28-year-old lefty faces a make or break year and it was announced today that Liriano would skip his next start and not pitch until May 1.
Links for Monday…
- The Indians are still checking around for a left fielder or center fielder, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. They'd prefer a right-handed hitter to add balance to their lefty-heavy lineup.
- GM Neal Huntington told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the Pirates haven't thought of sending Pedro Alvarez to Triple-A following his Spring Training struggles. "He's going through a tough stretch right now,” Huntington said. “Are we going to be able to get him out of it? We believe we will."
- Bill Shaikin of the LA Times breaks down the three remaining bidders for the Dodgers and explains that MLB is expected to approve all three this week.
- Teams have asked about Everth Cabrera, but the Padres aren't inclined to trade him, Dan Hayes of the North County Times tweets.
The Pirates put a finishing touch on their offseason yesterday, agreeing to terms with Andrew McCutchen on a six year, $51.5MM contract extension. Here's the latest on the Pirates, starting with some reactions to the McCutchen deal…
- Neil Walker told Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Pittsburgh is lucky to have McCutchen under long-term control (all Twitter links). Walker, an extension candidate himself, told Sanserino that he'd also like to sign a long-term deal with the Pirates. So far extension talks haven’t gone very far, according to Walker.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs agrees with Walker, writing that Pirates fans should "dance in the streets" to celebrate the contract that will keep McCutchen in Pittsburgh for his prime.
- Nate McLouth and Charlie Morton were also pleased to see the deal completed, MLB.com's Tom Singer writes.
- Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the yearly breakdown of McCutchen's contract (Twitter link).
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney told Joe Giardina of Pittsburgh Sports Report that the Pirates are having trouble luring free agents to Pittsburgh. "They seem to be picking from just a different menu than some of the other teams," Olney said.
- Olney added that Pedro Alvarez is the most important player to the 2012 Pirates since he could break out into a star or continue to struggle.
The Rockies pick tenth in next year's draft, a pick that will be protected if they sign a Type A free agent who turned down arbitration this offseason. The latest on the team, from Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post:
- Kevin Kouzmanoff is unlikely to return to the Rockies next year. MLBTR reported yesterday that the team is in the process of outrighting the third baseman. Ian Stewart will get another shot at the third base job if he "makes baseball his first priority from the start of the winter until the end of it," GM Dan O'Dowd told Renck. The Rockies will need to make a decision on Stewart by the December 12th non-tender deadline though. Tendering him a contract probably means paying him around $2.2MM again.
- Opposing executives expect O'Dowd to aggressively pursue Mets third baseman David Wright. Otherwise Renck expects the Rockies to cast a wide net, including the Padres' Chase Headley and the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez but not free agent Aramis Ramirez. I have a hard time imagining the Padres sending Headley to their division rival; the two teams haven't matched up for an offseason trade since the Rockies' inaugural season.
- The Rockies are looking to trade Ty Wigginton even it means eating some of the $4.5MM owed to him.
- Renck reiterates that the Rockies seek an innings eater this offseason.
On this date ten years ago, John Smoltz struck out four batters and picked up his first regular season save. Then, on this date in 2009, the Red Sox released Smoltz, who had an 8.33 ERA at the time. The potential Hall of Famer went on to provide seven solid starts for the Cardinals later that season and hasn't pitched in the Majors since. Here are today's links…
- Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that GM Mike Rizzo did a "fantastic job" to sign Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin, Matt Purke and others on Monday night. Lerner believes the Nats now have one of the best farm systems in the game.
- Just because the Yankees signed Derek Jeter to a $51MM deal last winter doesn’t mean the Mariners should extend Ichiro Suzuki, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Arguing that Ichiro deserves Jeter-like treatment doesn’t make sense to Baker “for reasons that start on the field and end off of it.” The Mariners outfielder is under contract for $17MM in 2012.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com identifies five players we shouldn't give up on, including Pedro Alvarez and Ian Stewart.
- No one at the MLB owners meetings is questioning whether Jim Crane, the incoming Astros owner, is a viable candidate to take over the team, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
- Top Royals pick Bubba Starling said at a press conference today that his offense could still improve because he played three sports in high school and hasn't had the chance to devote himself to hitting (Associated Press link via ESPN.com).
Pirates president Frank Coonelly stopped by MLB.com today for his monthly chat with fans. With the Pirates' season over, the questions focused on the team's upcoming winter. Here are the highlights from the chat:
- The Pirates' have the capacity to "meaningfully increase" their payroll for next season, after spending $44MM on their 2010 roster.
- Coonelly shot down rumors suggesting that Andy Van Slyke has interviewed for the Pirates' managerial opening. The club has only interviewed Eric Wedge so far, and is still in the process of compiling a full list of candidates.
- Coonelly didn't rule out some of Pittsburgh's coaches being retained by the new manager, but noted that the on-field staff has been given the freedom to explore other opportunities.
- Despite Pedro Alvarez's occasional struggles at third base (he posted a -8.0 UZR/150 this season), the team has no plans to move him across the diamond to first base.
- While Coonelly praised the organization's minor league starting pitching, he conceded that many of their young arms may not be ready to contribute at the major league level next year. As such, starting pitching will be targeted through free agency or trades.
- The Pirates will use free agency to supplement their core talent; Coonelly says the team intends to "aggressively pursue" players who can fill needs.
9:24pm: Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Alvarez has been officially called up. The prospect got the news after Indianapolis' game on Tuesday night. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Alvarez will be in the lineup against Chicago on Wednesday.
6:55pm: Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Pedro Alvarez, the No.2 overall pick in the 2008 Amateur Draft, could make his major league debut for Pittsburgh before the end of the week. Langosch reports that Alvarez is in the lineup tonight for Triple-A Indianapolis, and could be called up as soon as Wednesday for that evening's White Sox/Pirates game. One might think the Bucs might announce Alvarez's first game in advance to sell a few extra tickets either against the Sox or when the Indians come to town for a weekend series.
Alvarez will play every day at third base for the Pirates, thus making current baseman Andy LaRoche into a backup or utilityman; Langosch notes that LaRoche has already been taking grounders at second base in preparation for his new role. With Neil Walker locked into the second base job, LaRoche (who was a well-regarded prospect him not too long ago) could be made available to a team looking for an infield backup. The Bucs would certainly have an easier time moving LaRoche than they would dealing Akinori Iwamura's big contract.
From now on, teams that call prospects up to make their major league debuts no longer have to worry that those players will go to arbitration an extra time. It's now June and prospects that debut from this point on will not pick up more than 124 days of MLB service time this year. There's almost no chance that that would be enough for super two status after 2012. We all know when to expect Stephen Strasburg, but let's take a look around the majors and anticipate the arrivals of some more top prospects:
- Mike Stanton – You thought Jose Bautista had a lot of homers? Stanton hit his 19th and 20th of the season tonight at AA in front of Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. The 20-year-old Stanton, ranked by Baseball America as the Marlins' best prospect this offseason, entered today's action with 39 walks and 50 strikeouts. Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel says it may not be long before Stanton is playing in the majors.
- Carlos Santana – The 24-year-old catcher began the season as one of the best prospects in baseball and he has lived up to expectations so far in 2010. Santana has hit .315/.450/.565 at Triple A with ten homers and more strikeouts than walks. Lou Marson, who is actually younger than Santana, struggled early on for the Indians, but has impressed Indians manager Manny Acta lately. Still, Marson has a .216/.270/.276 line this season, so Santana appears to have more offensive potential.
- Pedro Alvarez – The Pirates, who have scored the second-fewest runs in the National League, might be tempted by the .261/.349/.511 line Alvarez has posted in Triple A. No Pirate has a slugging percentage as high as the one Alvarez has posted in the minors and just Ryan Doumit and Andrew McCutchen have been getting on base as much.
Stanton, Santana and Alvarez have played well, but they aren't the only ones who could arrive in the majors before long. Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, Aroldis Chapman and Brett Wallace could conceivably get the call within a few weeks.